Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey today announced that she has accepted the nationwide public-safety broadband network (NPSBN) deployment plan offered by FirstNet and AT&T on behalf of her state, making Alabama the 24th state—not including two territories—to “opt-in” to the FirstNet system.

“Keeping Alabama’s residents, visitors and first responders safe is of the highest concern,” Ivey said in a prepared statement. “From volunteer emergency responders in our rural communities to those on the front lines in more populated areas, our public-safety community deserves access to the tools they need most.

“This collaboration with FirstNet and AT&T will allow us to provide our first responders increased capabilities to communicate as effectively and efficiently as possible, while also ensuring that our residents and businesses have the best possible services provided to them in times of emergency.”

Hal Taylor, secretary of the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, echoed this sentiment.

“Reliable, effective communications systems and networks are most important when lives are on the line,” Taylor said in a prepared statement. “I am very pleased Alabama is opting in to be part of FirstNet. This network, and the new tools it will provide, will help our first responders do their jobs more safely and effectively, and it will help save lives all across the state.” 

Taylor also serves as chairman of the Alabama First Responder Wireless Commission (AFRWC), which last month voted unanimously to send a “opt-in” letter of recommendation to Ivey.

Under the law that established FirstNet, governors in all 56 states and territories have the choice of making an “opt-in” decision—accepting the FirstNet deployment plan and allowing AT&T to build the LTE radio access network (RAN) within the state’s borders at no cost to the state—or pursuing the “opt-out” alternative, which would require the state to be responsible for building and maintaining the RAN for the next 25 years.

Alabama is the third state—joining Michigan and Arizona—to issue a request for proposal (RFP) seeking proposals from potential vendors wanting to build an alternative RAN within the state. This procurement process was initiated during the tenure of former Gov. Robert Bentley, who resigned in April amid a sex scandal and charges of campaign-finance violations. Although Alabama received bids, no vendor selection was ever announced.

“Gov. Ivey’s decision to join FirstNet comes after the state considered a number of options to bring public safety the best communications solution,” says FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet and AT&T are extremely pleased to have delivered the network plan that best meets Alabama’s unique needs. We look forward to connecting first responders across the state’s diverse landscape, providing them access to the only network purpose-built for public safety’s life-saving mission.”

With the Alabama announcement, the number of states with active alternative-RAN procurements is reduced to 13. However, that number is expected to increase on Friday, when the states of Washington and Oregon are scheduled to issue joint RFPs seeking proposals from potential alternative-RAN vendors.